Thursday, October 24, 2013

Luther - God wills man to do evil?

"For I misspoke when I said that free will before grace exists in name only; rather I should have simply said ‘free will is a fiction among real things, a name with no reality.’ For no one has it within his control to intend anything, good or evil, but rather, as was rightly taught by the article of Wycliffe which was condemned at [the Council of] Constance, all things occur by absolute necessity.  That was what the poet meant when he said, ‘All things are settled by a fixed law’ [Virgil, Aeneid 2.324]…."

This is part of Luther's Assertion of Article Thirty Six which was a response to Pope Leo X’s official document (Latin: bulla) Exsurge Domine dated June 15, 1520. He here denies free will not only to do good, but even to will evil. This was in part to combat the idea of Congruous Grace, which taught that man can do some good before he is converted, though not to merit him eternal life. However, in doing so, Luther went as far as to say:

"What, then, is free will but a thing in name only? How can it prepare itself for the good when it does not even have the power to make its own paths evil? For God does even bad deeds in the wicked..."

So God is the doer of even evil deeds? Thoughts?

Quotes taken from Thomas Scheck's BISHOP JOHN FISHER’S RESPONSE TO MARTIN LUTHER article, which can be found in the journal Franciscan Studies.

Origen's response to those who use Rom 9:16 to argue that man does not have free will

"So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy." - Rom 9:16

"Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman keeps awake in vain." - Psalm 127:1

In this [Psalm 127:1] he is not dissuading us from building or teaching us not to keep awake in order to guard the city in our soul [allegorical interpretation of verse 1], but he is showing us that what is built without God and what does not receive its guard from him is built in vain and protected to no purpose, since God may reasonably be regarded as the lord of the building and the Master of the universe as the ruler of the guard for the city.